Family farming is the most common type of farming around the world. Far from being backward, it adapts and responds to changes in the environment. The barometer dedicated to family farmers by Iles de Paix, SOS-Faim and Autre Terre analyzesthe current issues that shape and transform them.

ADDRESSING FOOD SYSTEMS

What is meant by “sustainable food systems” ?  Furthermore, what does the successful implementation of such a system mean for policy change?  Are we about to see a change in the way the world manages issues of food security and farming?

In a feature article, and with expert testimonies, the 2020 Family Farming Barometer points out a fact: the present food system does not meet the needs of the 21st century and it is urgent that it be radically transformed. The Barometer also offers ways of engaging in the creation of a sustainable food system.

The Barometer provides a forum for experts, farmer organisations and civil society movements. The 2020 contributors are eminent personalities, such as Million Belay, coordinator of Alliance pour la Souveraineté alimentaire en Afrique from Ethiopia; Jennifer Clapp, professor at University of Waterloo, Canada; Alberto Ercilio Broch, president of COPROFAM of Brazil; Nicolas Bricas, food socio-economist at CIRAD from France.

All these contributors addressed one question: How would you rate the food systems in 2020? They all said that the result was insufficient.

The beginning of change?

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the many weaknesses of our global food system and has given additional weight to the many voices calling for change. The issue of food during this time has given rise to many discussions on the rupture in international food supply chains, the resilience of our systems, and food sovereignty.

There is a growing consensus today on the need to change our food systems. The idea of transforming the system that has long been proposed by civil society and scientists, is now being partly taken up by politicians. Why is this issue gaining ground? What do we mean by a ” food system”? What needs changing, exactly? For what purpose?

Today, important scientific reports point to the need, not only for change, but for a radical transformation of food systems. This requires a profound reorientation of political priorities, but is the will there to move forward with this?

At the international level, the Food System Summit will take place in 2021. This United Nations initiative aims to integrate the benefits of a food production approach through food systems, and to fight against the various current dysfunctions. This assembly could augur well but there are already concerns about the transforming ambitions of this summit. In addition to a superficial consensus on the need for transformation, financial interests are well ensconced and divergent views persist.

The road ahead of radical transformation to sustainable food systems will be a struggle. This road, aside from the technical and conceptual considerations involved in a systemic vision, is above all, quite a political feat: how far are we prepared to go to upset political priorities and existing interests in order to have the right to food respected and the ecosystems preserved?

The creation of this barometer is a collaboration of the NGOs SOS Faim, Iles de Paix, Autre Terre and the World Rural Forum (WRF).

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